Biggest-ever Dubai Airshow reflects recovery of international aerospace sector

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Dubai Airshow 2021 was officially the biggest edition of the event since it first began in 1989, with an incredible USD 78 billion worth of deals announced during the week. The mega event welcomed more than 104,000 attendees and witnessed a 50% increase in trade visitors which included global senior executives from 148 countries. The Airshow was bigger than the pre-pandemic 2019 edition in terms of visitor numbers and deals announced.

It was also a significant milestone for the defence and space sectors which saw a range of deals and agreements declared. Some of the notable deals which took place during the event included Airbus who announced orders and commitments totalling 408 aircraft (269 firm orders and 139 commitments). The agreements covered the full range of commercial aircraft families, including a first commitment for the A350F freighter derivative.

Airbus launched its latest global market forecast outlining progressively shifting demand from fleet growth to accelerated retirement of older, less fuel-efficient aircraft resulting in a need for some 39,000 new-build passenger and freighter aircraft. Of these,15,250 aircraft (around 40%) are for replacements.

On the opening day of the show alone, Indigo Partners portfolio airlines placed a firm order for 255 A321neo Family aircraft, including 29 XLR. This included Wizz Air ordering 102 aircraft, Frontier 91 aircraft (A321neo); Volaris 39 aircraft (A321neo) and JetSMART 23 aircraft.

Boeing announced an order of 72 of its 737 Max from new Indian airline Akasa Air. It also announced orders for 11 of its 737-800BCF cargo planes from aircraft leasing company Icelease, nine converted 767-300BCF freighters from DHL, and orders for two of its long-range 777F freighters from Emirates SkyCargo. Boeing received four orders of passenger planes and freighters from Air Tanzania and three of its widebody 777-300 passenger jets from UAE-based aviation services provider Sky One FZE.

The UAE’s Ministry of Defence signed AED 22.5 billion worth of contracts with European, American and Asian contractors and suppliers at the Airshow. The UAE Air Force and Air Defence (Afad) on the first day awarded a contract worth Dh11 billion to Abu Dhabi-based advanced technology firm Edge Group’s subsidiary GAL for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), and specialised support services for the UAE Airforce and Air Defence.

Tawazun Economic Council (Tawazun) and Airbus signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under which the latter will establish a wholly-owned facility in Abu Dhabi. The formation of the subsidiary is part of Tawazun’s efforts to attract and promote long-term partnerships with major companies in the defence, aviation and aerospace sector. Tawazun also signed a Euro 216.9 million deal with Aeroter to purchase 100 VRT500 helicopters.

Timothy Hawes, Managing Director at Tarsus Middle East, organisers of Dubai Airshow 2021 said: “It has been a truly incredible Dubai Airshow. The event has been a real testament to the resilience, robustness and adaptability of the aviation and aerospace industries to come back with such strength after the pandemic.”

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